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SS Future Re-Open Plan: Timing, Testing Needs??!!


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1 hour ago, docruth said:

is this the start of the “second wave”, the discussion presently making the debate rounds on the news and talk shows? If it is, the prognosis for a near term large scale restart of cruising seems significantly more unlikely

 

I have stopped using the term "second wave".  The primary reason for this is the first wave really hasn't ended.  Nor do I think there will be a distinct second wave.  The first wave simply is not going to stop.  Think of the spread of the virus as a forest fire.  It gets hot and burns in one place, ebbs in another, then burns somewhere else.  This is going to go on to there is a concerted world wide effort to put out the fires, to kill the virus.  There is a superb piece in Sunday's NYTimes titled "Consider the Virus's Point of View"  by David Quammen.  It should be mandatory reading for anyone wrestling with understanding the virus.  It is both doom and gloom,  "Will ever be rid of it (the virus) entirely, now that it is a human virus.  Probably not.  Will we ever get past the travails of this Covid 19 emergency.  Yes."  The yes follows from his belief that humans are very smart....sometimes.  He is being ever so generous.  To get past the "travails"  the entire world needs to get on the same page and be relentless in mitigation that universally denies the virus more hosts on which to feed.  Is this possible?  I too will say yes only after year after year of putting out fires only to see others start.  At some point in time we may become so weary and so tired of people dying, of economies reeling, that we, and I am going to use a huge word here, that we as a species act in concert to put this fire out.  To kill the virus.  

And please don't believe for one second that a magical vaccine is going to appear that makes us virus proof.  As long as we hold out that hope we delay dealing with the reality of this beast.  At best, in the near future, in everything I have read, the possibility of a vaccine that is 99.9% effective is zero.  At best, initially, the CDC standard for a vaccine's approval and release to the public is 50% effectiveness.  That gives me zero comfort.  Getting world wide consensus on a strategy to deal with virus is analogous to achieving consensus on climate change.  We are doing such a great job with that.  I am sorry.  I just can't keep reading here and nearly everywhere else this magical thinking that a vaccine is around the corner and that it will solve all our problems. 

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1 hour ago, Lois R said:

I'm thinking, in addition to testing(s), there will be mandatory masks, social distancing and reduced capacity at a minimum. Since that's what states are doing I'd think the feds would do at least that much.

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37 minutes ago, chrism23 said:

 I too will say yes only after year after year of putting out fires only to see others start.  At some point in time we may become so weary and so tired of people dying, of economies reeling, that we, and I am going to use a huge word here, that we as a species act in concert to put this fire out.  To kill the virus.  

I'm going to take the liberty of using this as a small example of what the world needs to do regarding climate change. It's going to take everybody being SMART and working together. The US at least seems pretty arrogant when it comes to putting aside personal wants. Two cents.

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On 9/18/2020 at 5:58 AM, chrism23 said:

A 50% effective vaccine may as well be 0.  Perhaps some sort of anti-body test may be developed to indicate whether an individual may have immunity or not but right now antibody tests are worthless.  If we and the industry waits for a vaccine to be near 100% effective, like polio or measles, none of us may ever get to sea again.  Something to think about.  

 

I would not assume that any vaccine developed would be a "ZERO".  For the flu, such vaccines are not always 100% or even close.  BUT, they do help!  Especially when combined with other efforts, it improves our "odds" and heightens the levels of protection.  In the news today, people such as Bill Gates were fairly optimistic that serious progress has been made.  For us, we are not ready to e cruising in only a few weeks or months.  BUT, I can see some "light at the end of the tunnel"!!   We are getting closer!!  Maybe by Spring or Summer 2021??!!  Even when and if for a fairly effective vaccine, each individual, especially those older, must consider their personal health history, degrees of risk, etc.  

 

From the Wall Street Journal late this afternoon, they had this headline: “Cruise Lines Propose Covid-19 Safety Measures to CDC” with these highlights: “The cruise industry has outlined the steps it would take to protect people on board its ships amid the Covid-19 pandemic as it seeks regulatory permission to resume sailings in the U.S.  The Cruise Lines International Association on Monday released a plan that calls for implementing tighter controls to keep infected people from boarding ships, reducing transmission through air management, as well as steps for addressing positive infections aboard. The proposed measures would also apply to CLIA members’ sailings in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, it said.  The proposed measures could prepare cruise lines for the return of limited sailings from the U.S. by the end of the year, CLIA President and Chief Executive Kelly Craighead said.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current cruising ban is set to expire Sept. 30. The industry’s self-imposed suspension in the U.S. runs through Oct. 31. Some cruise operators are cautiously beginning to sail again in Europe. But doing so has been risky, and there has already been an outbreak.  Under the trade group’s plan, cruise operators would fully test passengers and crew members before embarkation and require the wearing of masks by people on board as well as when physical distancing can’t be maintained during outside excursions. A CLIA spokeswoman said those who had been in close contact with a confirmed coronavirus-positive person on board could be tested after a voyage.”

 

Here is how CNN, the cable news network, covered the story this afternoon with a  headline of: New regulations announced for cruising's return to US watersI .  Here are their story highlights: “Universal mask wearing, physical distancing, Covid-19 testing and increasing fresh air into ventilation systems could allow cruising in the US to return before the end of 2020. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the industry body that represents the world's major cruise lines, on Monday announced the 'mandatory core elements' of a new set of health regulations for the return of cruising in the Americas. Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald said the shutdown of the cruise industry in the wake of Covid-19 was 'probably the most difficult period in our industry's nearly 50 year history' pointing out that no other industry in the world is 'shut down through regulatory edict.'  Cruising out of US ports is currently banned through a No Sail Order from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) until at least October 31.But Donald added that 'perhaps no other industry in the world has worked harder to study the science and create operational protocols to ensure the safety of their guests and employees' and suggested the cruise company was 'on a path' to resume guest cruise operations in the US.  Testing will be the starting point for the new cruising normal, with all guests tested prior to embarkation with additional temperature checks throughout the voyage. Meanwhile crew will be tested frequently, before departing their home, prior to embarking on the ship and upon conclusion of a 7-day quarantine.  CLIA called testing a 'critical component' of the proposed return to cruising.  The heating and air conditioning systems on cruise ships have long been pinpointed as an issue when it comes to the spread of infection. And if a person tests positive while on board a cruise ship, the goal will be to disembark them as soon as possible. CLIA says prearranged logistics with port partners and destinations will allow Covid-19 cases to be disembarked safely. Carnival's Donald said there could be modifications to some cabins, to create additional isolation rooms, but there would be 'no fundamental reconstruction of the ships or anything.'  As for shore excursions, they will follow strict protocols -- and anyone who fails to abide by regulations will be denied reboarding.”

 

With today being the deadline for submissions to CDC, I do not expect a quick, positive approval plan for the cruise lines.  The CNN article noted: "Cumulative CDC data from March 1 through July 10, 2020 showed a total of 2,973 Covid-19 or Covid-like illness cases on cruise ships, in addition to 34 deaths. Eighty percent of ships within US jurisdiction were affected during the time frame, according to the data."  CDC and other countries will be "tough" to impose tight rules, especially as cases are now starting to bounce back up in the UK and for other parts of Europe.

 

Full stories at:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/royal-caribbean-norwegian-outline-to-cdc-how-they-plan-to-cruise-safely-11600682405

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/clia-new-regulations-return-to-cruising-usa/index.html

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio 

 

Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise from Copenhagen, July 2010, to the top of Europe. Scenic visuals with key tips. Live/blog at 240,452 views.

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1227923

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From the London/UK Times today, they had this headline: “New 10pm coronavirus curfew for pubs and restaurants” with these highlights: “Boris Johnson will today impose a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants, ban ordering at the bar and encourage working from home as he tries to rally the country in a renewed fight against coronavirus.  The Covid alert system was raised to its second most severe level last night before new restrictions that the prime minister will say are needed to prevent the return of a nationwide growth in infections.  From Thursday venues will be legally required to close earlier and to offer table service only. Ministers met last night to decide which of the exemptions to the rule of six will be dropped, with indoor sporting events the most likely. The number allowed to attend weddings could also be reduced from 30 to 15, it is understood. After weeks of ministers encouraging people to return to the office, they will also be asked to consider working from home. The nation was prepared for another six months of tougher social distancing rules in a briefing by the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser. They warned that without action there could be 50,000 cases and more than 200 deaths a day within two months. Ministers are worried about low compliance rates among the young, students and some members of hard-to-reach communities. The flouting of rules has contributed to cases rising to a level estimated at 31 per 100,000, with a national 'R' rate of 1.4. The restrictions announced today will be cast as a first step, with others held in reserve if more action is required in a fortnight.”

 

Full story at:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/new-10pm-coronavirus-curfew-for-pubs-and-restaurants-6jzmcwsd3

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

Sydney to NZ/Auckland Adventure, live/blog 2014 sampling/details with many exciting visuals and key highlights.  On page 23, post #571, see a complete index for all of the pictures, postings.  Now at 230,991 views.

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139

 

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6 minutes ago, alexandria said:

Attached are the RCCL Healthy Sail Panel Recommendations provided to the CDC earlier today.  My observations to follow...

healthy-sail-panel-full-recommendations.pdf 2.15 MB · 0 downloads


I read them over on FaceBook.   My comment there was: 

 

We will not be cruising under those conditions.  More importantly the very need for them means the virus is still very active and present.  That alone will keep us from cruising.   

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8 minutes ago, Randyk47 said:

We will not be cruising under those conditions.  More importantly the very need for them means the virus is still very active and present.  That alone will keep us from cruising.   

I totally understand the second part of your post.

 

9 minutes ago, Randyk47 said:

We will not be cruising under those conditions.

Are there specific ones that are deal breakers for you?

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Here are my initial observations of the RCCL recommendations after skimming through the entire document.

 

First, virtually all of the recommendations are common sense, general proposals that mirror what the CDC has recommended for quite some time.  Standard screening questions, pre-boarding COVID testing, on-board health monitoring, social distancing, mask wearing in all indoor locations other than while dining and even in outdoor settings where social distancing is not possible, cruiseline sponsored or approved excursions only in ports of call with no other ability to leave the ship.  And when you get down to the nitty-gritty, some of the more detailed recommendations specific to the cruise ship environment contain disclaimers.  For example, "Cruise operators’ indoor air management strategies should be optimized given the constraints of ship age and ventilation type."

 

I also observed the interesting language concerning the health screening of passengers.  The recommendations note:  "To encourage truthful reporting, cruise operators should make guests and crew aware that identification of symptoms or potential exposures does not automatically result in denial of boarding" but then later observes and recommends that "The Cruise Ticket Contract is a customary part of the guest experience. In reviewing and agreeing to the terms of the contract, guests are agreeing to various terms and conditions of the cruise experience, including an understanding of the cruise operator’s policy for denial of boarding—for example, age restrictions would result in a denial of boarding for children under a certain age.   In addition to existing guest restrictions, the Panel believes that it is important that guests formally agree to follow the safety policies and protocols set forth to specifically reduce the risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 for both guests and crew. Additionally, guests must be made aware that the results of their preboard testing or screening could result in a denial of boarding. Under the current circumstances, it would not be appropriate for cruise operators to have anything less than strict adherence to a no tolerance policy toward allowing individuals to board if they are confirmed or suspected of being infected with SARS-CoV-2."

 

The panel further recommends that "As noted earlier in the recommendations, if a group is traveling together to a cruise, if any one of them has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the previous two weeks, all members of that party who are close contacts of the infected individual should not travel to the pier and all will be denied boarding."  That would suggest that if one passenger is denied boarding due to a failed health screening, all members of that passengers party would also be denied boarding.  And if you read most trip insurance policies carefully, such an event is likely NOT COVERED by your travel insurance provider unless you are involuntarily detained, quarantined or hospitalized in connection with the denied boarding or a physician certifies that you are unable to participate in the trip due to medically imposed restrictions.  Whether a cruise line physician would provide such certification was not discussed.   

 

Note the complete absence of any discussion of repatriation of the passenger denied boarding.  It it is clear from the recommendations and accompanying discussion by the panel that a hard-line approach would be taken by RCCL (and Silversea) that the denied boarding provisions of the cruise contract would apply.  Those provisions clearly state as to denied boarding that the company "shall not be liable to any Passenger for any refund, payment, compensation or credit of any kind for such denial of boarding.

 

I am less than impressed by the recommendations which do little to inspire confidence.  Rather, the overall impact of the recommendations combined with the apparent lack of concern about the financial and other consequences to passengers who are denied boarding, have confirmed my decision to forgo FCC for my canceled sailing and insist upon a cash refund.

 

 

Edited by alexandria
Grammatical error.
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20 minutes ago, clo said:

I totally understand the second part of your post.

 

Are there specific ones that are deal breakers for you?


Masks, social distancing, and ship tours only are sufficient to keep us off a cruise.   Again it goes to if those measures, including testing, are required then that is a clear signal to us that the virus is still prevalent and not under control.

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17 minutes ago, clo said:

I totally understand the second part of your post.

 

Are there specific ones that are deal breakers for you?

 

I can't speak for Randyk47, but here are several that were concerning to me from a cruise enjoyment perspective:

 

Masks in all indoor spaces except in cabin or when dining, even if social distancing is possible.  So mask in fitness center, mask in entertainment venue, etc.  Masks even in outdoor spaces where social distancing not possible.  So mask in pool?  Whirlpool?  While lounging near pool on a sea day?

 

No departing the ship in port except on organized cruise line excursion.  No more exploration of the towns or islands.  No more independently booked tours.  No enjoyment of local restaurants and shops.

 

From a cruise safety standpoint:

 

COVID is primarily spread by airborne particles.  However, as to indoor air management, the recommendations provide that it "should" be optimized "given the constraints of ship age and ventilation type."  In other words, sorry, ship's system is too antiquated to upgrade without considerable financial investment, so we'll just let all the air circulate to all the cabins as usual, just too expensive to isolate each cabin's air supply or exchange for fresh air instead of recycling the air everyone has been exhaling into for the past few days.

 

Even the recommendation to install MERV13 filters in the HVAC systems is a "should" not "shall".

 

From a passenger's confidence standpoint:

 

If you don't pass the health screening and are denied boarding, Silversea will provide no refund, payment, compensation or credit and will not assist you in returning home.  If one of your party does not pass the health screening, you will probably be denied boarding and Silversea will provide no refund, payment, compensation or credit and will not assist you in returning home.  So if one of your traveling companions develops a fever or cough prior to boarding, even with a negative COVID test, they and their entire party might be denied boarding, leaving you all stranded at the pier. 

 

Those are my first impressions after an initial read of the recommendations and the discussion of the panel, as well as a brief "relook" at the Silversea Passage Contract and trip insurance policies from two different travel insurance providers.

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19 minutes ago, alexandria said:

Those are my first impressions after an initial read of the recommendations and the discussion of the panel, as well as a brief "relook" at the Silversea Passage Contract and trip insurance policies from two different travel insurance providers.

Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't these what the cruise lines are proposing rather than what the CDC will require? I sure hope what they do is in very strong language with even strong penalties for non-compliance. IMO.

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7 minutes ago, clo said:

Thanks. Here in NV we're so used to those that after all these months it wouldn't deter us at all.


We too are used to it here in Texas but then again we’re not paying several hundreds of dollars a day to enjoy our patio and pool.   

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2 minutes ago, Randyk47 said:


We too are used to it here in Texas but then again we’re not paying several hundreds of dollars a day to enjoy our patio and pool.   

If we were motivated to cruise in the next couple of years, those wouldn't deter us. But each of us is different. We'll be doing land travel...with masks and social distancing.

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6 minutes ago, clo said:

If we were motivated to cruise in the next couple of years, those wouldn't deter us. But each of us is different. We'll be doing land travel...with masks and social distancing.


Indeed we are considering land travel and are actually thinking of touring around a bit by car.   We can control our exposure and not be subject to the proposed cruise ship measures.   We’re still motivated to cruise and still have a cruise bucket list but we can wait awhile.   If in a couple of years there are still restrictions then there will be a whole lot issues that would make cruising the least of our concerns.   

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11 minutes ago, clo said:

Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't these what the cruise lines are proposing rather than what the CDC will require? I sure hope what they do is in very strong language with even strong penalties for non-compliance. IMO.

 

Yes, those are just recommendations.  But it appeared to me that instead of providing innovative and forward-thinking recommendations that were tailored to the cruise ship environment, the recommendations of the RCCL panel were instead overly deferential to the finances and concerns of the cruise line.

 

Why else refer to the denied boarding provisions of the passage of contract (which provides for no refund or compensation if denied boarding)?  Why shouldn't older ships be required to provide the same high quality indoor air as newly built ships?  If these are recommendations for HEALTHY sailing, the air quality should be absolutely clean and safe regardless of the age or condition of the ship.  A panel of independent public health experts not hired by the cruise industry would not water down or temper their recommendations just because implementation would cost the cruise line money.  Why does the panel recommend that MERV13 filters "should" be installed?  I have MERV13 filters on my home HVAC systems, are you telling me that as a cruise line you aren't willing to recommend that level or better of air filtration be mandatory?  Those are just a few examples.

 

If you look at the CDC Request for Information Related to Cruise Ship Planning and Infrastructure, Resumption of Passenger Operations, and Summary Questions (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/07/21/2020-15812/request-for-information-related-to-cruise-ship-planning-and-infrastructure-resumption-of-passenger#open-comment), and in particular the twenty-six summary questions posed, many with multiple subparts, you will notice that RCCL ignored the vast majority of the concerns for which the CDC sought input.  It seemed that each of the panel's recommendations involved minimal cost or burden to the cruise line.

 

While the CDC will have the final word, the manner in which RCCL (Silversea) has addressed (or failed to address) the concerns raised by the CDC simply does not inspire my confidence in RCCL (Silversea).

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1 minute ago, alexandria said:

While the CDC will have the final word, the manner in which RCCL (Silversea) has addressed (or failed to address) the concerns raised by the CDC simply does not inspire my confidence in RCCL (Silversea).

Nor mine. And I replied to the Federal Register link also. And I doubt that 'cruise-non-haters' would like it. I think the CDC MUST be strong with their requirements with even stronger penalties for non-compliance. As I've mentioned elsewhere my first job out of school was in a lab at the CDC. I've always held them to a high standard. I hope they'll not disappoint us. BTW, thanks for your posts; they're very informative.

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1 minute ago, alexandria said:

DW retired from the CDC, her education and background is in public health and epidemiology.  She has followed this with interest.

I also wanted to be an epidemiologist 🙂  I worked there back in the 60s. In parasitology.

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Yeah, the lack of independent excursions would probably be a deal breaker for us. Watching with some interest; have May and November booked in the Med but will certainly reconsider if we have to take (and pay for) ships' tours which may or may not really be of much interest to us. In the Med we almost always DIY in ports.

 

Masks, social distancing, etc - we can live with that. We're from NY where (like clo et al) we have been doing this for a seemingly long time. If we don't cruise, we'd try to do something independent and land-based, and we'd expect to wear masks then. I don't expect that requirement to go away for a long time.

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